From Indore-Patna to Hirakhand tragedy: Accidents portray Indian Railways in poor light

Indian Railways has a very poor track record when it comes to passenger safety

FP Staff January 22, 2017 16:42:18 IST
From Indore-Patna to Hirakhand tragedy: Accidents portray Indian Railways in poor light

(This article is being republished in light of the fact that at least 39 people were killed and 50 others injured as seven coaches of the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed on 22 January.)

At least 36 people were killed and 50 injured when the Jagdalpur-Bhubaneswar Hirakhand Express derailed in Andhra Pradesh's Vizianagaram district. The incident occurred on Saturday at 11.30 pm near Kuneru station, 24 km from Rayagada in Odisha. The train was enroute to Odisha's capital Bhubaneswar from Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh.

Nine coaches — a luggage van, two general and four sleeper coaches, a second-cum-third AC coach, a third AC coach — and the engine derailed.

Let's take a look at some of the major rail accidents that have happened in this country in the past decade, before and after the NDA government led by Narendra Modi came into power.

Before Modi: 2010

28 May: Jnaneshwari Deluxe Express, West Bengal, 170 killed

The most tragic of all train accidents in India, on 28 May, 2010 night, five coaches of the Jnaneshwari Deluxe Express derailed from the tracks and collided with a goods train, killing 170 passengers. According to BBC, the tracks were sabotaged by Maoist rebels. However, Maoists declined any involvement in the accident. The accident took place in the Jhargram area of West Midnapore, about 150 km (90 miles) west of Calcutta. A railway official told BBC that "the incident happened at 0130 IST when it was still dark, which meant the driver had failed to see the damaged track".

From IndorePatna to Hirakhand tragedy Accidents portray Indian Railways in poor light

Onlookers stand at the site of Vananchal Express accident at Sainthia station in West Bengal. The accident killed at least 60 people and injured 80. Reuters

18 July: Vananchal Express at Sainthia station, West Bengal, 60 killed and 80 injured

At 2 am on 18 July, 2010, the Vananchal Express running between Cooch Bihar and Kolkata crashed into a train waiting at Sainthia Station in West Bengal. Officials said they believed driver error was responsible for the incident, but Mamata Banerjee, who was then railways minister said she was suspicious about the cause, NYT had reported. The train accident killed around 60 people and injured 80. This was the second train accident in less than two months after Jnaneshwari Deluxe Express.


July 11: Delhi-bound Howrah-Kalka Mail, 80 killed and more than 350 injured

A passenger train derailed near Fatehpur, about 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Kanpur city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on 11 July, 2011. Rain made rescue work very difficult, and according to a report by The Indian Express, there were no survivors in two bogies, S1 and S2.


30 July: Tamil Nadu Express, 32 killed and 25 injured

A coach of the Tamil Nadu Express, running from Delhi to Chennai, caught fire near Nellore, around 500 kilometres from Hyderabad, when most of the passengers were asleep. The fire killed 30 passengers


28 December: Bangalore-Nanded Express, fire kills 26 and injures 8

According to The Times of India, 26 passengers in coach B1 of the Bangalore-Nanded Express were charred to death and eight injured in the fire that started around 3.45 am on 28 December 2013 at Kothacheruvu station near Puttaparthy in Ananthpur district of Andhra Pradesh.

After Modi: 2014

26 May: Gorakhdham Express, 40 killded and more than 150 injured

More than 40 people died and over 150 were injured in the Gorakhdham Express train accident as the Gorakhpur-bound train rammed into a goods train at Chureb station between Basti and Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh on 26 May, 2014. According to, the accident took place around 10.45 am when the Gorakhdham Express hit a stationary goods train near the outer signal of Chureb railway station. The passenger train was running behind schedule but apparently due to some fault, it was given a green signal to move on even as a goods train was waiting on the same track.


13 February: Bangalore City - Ernakulam Intercity Express, 9 killed, 16 injured

Nine passengers were killed and 16 seriously injured when nine bogies of the Ernakulam-bound Express train from Bengaluru jumped off the track near Anekal on 13 February. Five men, three women and a 9 year-old are among those killed in the mishap. Soon after the accident, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that a boulder fell on the track and the train hit it.

20 March: Dehradun-Varanasi Janta Express, 38 killed and 150 injured

The engine and two coaches of the Dehradun-Varanasi Janta Express derailed near Bachrawan railway station in UP's Rae Bareli on 20 March, 2015 killing 38 and injuring more than 150. According to a news report, published by The Times of India, the locomotive driver apparently overshot the signal and as a result, the engine and two adjoining coaches derailed.


20 November: Indore-Patna Express, 145 dead and 226 injured

Over 120 passengers were killed and 226 injured, 76 of them seriously, when 14 coaches of the Indore-Patna Express derailed near Pukhraya in Kanpur's Dehat district in the wee hours of 20 November. The high death toll was partly because of the sleeping passengers being caught unaware and the old coaches of the train, according to The Times of India.

The possible reason for the accident was a rail fracture, but a recent report revealing possible connection to Pakistani spy agency made the derailment look like a terrorist attack.

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